Volume 43, Issue 9 - September 2008

Contract Glazing

Harmon Branch Sale Spawns
New Company in South Bend

South Bend, Ind., is now home to a new glass business, though most all of the employees have worked there for many years. How is this possible? This past April employees Jim Mroz, Jason Christy and Larry Schulz purchased what was then a Harmon Inc. operation and re-named the business Precision Wall Systems (PWS).

According to Mroz, who serves as PWS president and majority owner, Harmon wanted to close the operations in South Bend, which serves Indiana and Western Michigan primarily. “We [Mroz, Christy and Schulz] were able to purchase the operations.”

That purchase saved about 60 jobs.

“We were able to retain ten office employees and approximately 50 shop and field employees,” says Mroz. “Harmon is a great company. The challenge was that all of us in this location wanted to stay in South Bend. Harmon provided us with a great foundation of business skills that we’re now able to use on our own.” Going forward, Mroz says he is looking forward to the challenges of being a business owner.

“Our goal is to continue providing the same level of service and competiveness as we did before, but now without the financial support that we had through Harmon,” says Mroz. “We have a great group of people here who are fine craftsmen who all enjoy working together.”

GTA Includes Edmonton in Apprenticeship Program
Challenged by the shortage of skilled glass trades professionals, the Glass Trade Association (GTA) of Northern Alberta has expanded its apprenticeship training program with the addition of a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology satellite campus in Edmonton. Previously, the training was only held at the main campus in Calgary.

“All of the construction tradesin Alberta are in short supply and there is lots of construction activity,” says Ross Wady, president of GTA. “Our province is big geographically and sending students from Edmonton to Calgary is a three-hour drive. There’s more opportunity for the glass businesses in Edmonton in having the school so much closer to the young people here.”

According to Wady, the four-year course teaches students the fundamentals of the glass business, such as proper handling and cutting techniques, as well as working with storefront metal and glass. Classes for the first group of firstyear students began May 12; classes for a second group will begin in September so there will be two four-year groups to graduate in 2012. The goal for next year is to add two additional classes.

“We filled up the first class and 10 out of 16 openings are already filled for the September class,” says Wady.

Several companies within the industry have also been supportive of the new school by donating a variety of equipment types. Wady says Kawneer Canada supplied metal, Tremco donated sealants and glazing tapes and PCL Construction supplied cutting tables. ❙❙➤ www.tradesecrets.gov.ab.ca

USG
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